Firearms Bill C-21 a shot in the dark

On Oct. 21, 2022, a national freeze on the sale, purchase, or transfer of handguns came into effect in Canada. There’s been a lot of confusion since May 30 when Bill C-21 was announced, from gun enthusiasts and gun control advocates. Is C-21 a shot in the dark?

I’ll start off by saying that I have my restricted gun licence. I went through all of the safety checks and training to be able to buy, sell, transfer, and shoot a handgun. I was interested in pursuing the hobby of competing in International Practical Shooting Confederation (IPSC) sanctioned events for my love of target shooting as well as the problem solving and speed aspects of the sport.

Since before May, I was trying to transfer some handguns over to me, but life interrupted and it was bumped further down my to-do list. As of May, getting a hold of the people to initiate the transfer became impossible. I don’t know if they were actually busy 24/7 due to C-21, or if they just took their telephones off the hook. After daily, then weekly calls, I gave up. Since I didn’t get my transfer initiated before Oct. 21, I am out of luck. I do not own, nor may I ever be able to own a handgun.

When C-21 was announced on May 30, it was touted to reduce gun violence in Canada and keep Canadians safe. This was on the heels of the Uvalde, Texas elementary school shooting, so the air was ripe for gun control. Canadian sport shooters have become collateral damage.

In 2022, in the United States, according to Wikipedia, there have been 582 mass shootings so far this year, killing 604 people and wounding 2,380. As Canadians, we cringe when we hear “thoughts and prayers” and see no action being taken on automatic weapons in our neighbour’s house.

Canada is not the same. In total, over the last 22 years we haven’t even hit a tenth of those numbers. Fully automatic weapons are illegal in Canada, and there is a strict process to acquire restricted weapons.

After the April 2020 Nova Scotia shootings, the federal government banned assault-style firearms and implemented a buy-back program, with an amnesty period now extended to Oct. 30, 2023. Canadians acknowledge that it is important to combat gun violence, which is on the rise. But, does the general public realize how difficult it is already to get a restricted licence and how regulated it is to go to a gun club and shoot? More importantly, are we all clear on the fact that most weapons used to commit crimes are illegally obtained, like those in the Nova Scotia shootings?

There are facets of C-21 that I really like, such as being able to more easily confiscate weapons of those who may pose a risk to themselves or others. I also appreciate increasing the maximum penalties for firearm-related offences including smuggling, making it an offence to expand magazine capacity, and prohibiting the sale of certain replica firearms.

Consider this. Given that there are approximately 1.2 million lawfully registered handguns in Canada, if you make them illegal, you need to implement a buy-back program. At a minimum of $500 per handgun, that means that $600 million could be spent on gun tracing and more border control, to target criminals, instead of pulling the trigger on a buy-back of lawfully owned and operated handguns.

Laws only affect the lawful. We shouldn’t punish current and future sport shooters. If we’re trying to make Canada safer, we need to focus on getting guns out of criminals’ hands.

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